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Steamed Jam Pudding

I have never steamed a pudding. And by pudding, I mean cake. Steaming cakes, or puddings, is a traditionally British way of cooking these, instead of baking them.

I picked a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef for a basic steamed pudding. The recipe seemed simple enough and I liked the fact that he suggested simple sounding flavor variations in addition to offering a basic pudding. Unfortunately, there were several things that I didn’t like about the recipe. I didn’t know if there was any way to test when the pudding was done and the cooking time of “about 2 hours” seemed rather vague. Jamie also did not offer any serving suggestions, so I wasn’t sure whether the pudding should be served immediately or if it could.should be held at room temperature.

Mixing and cooking the puddings was simple. I didn’t have pudding molds, so I used pyrex baking dishes covered tightly with aluminum foil, per Jamie’s suggestion. Jamie did not mention that the puddings would make such a racket as they steamed. It could be the fact that I did not have actual molds, but my dishes rattled around like crazy and resisted all attempts to weight them down.

I made two puddings: a jam pudding and a chocolate pudding. The jam pudding tasted excellent. I used Sarabeth’s Plum Cherry Preserves and spiked the batter with a bit of vanilla and almond extracts. It was underbaked in the center, after about an hour or so of cooking time. I had to take it off the stove because I couldn’t stand the noise. The chocolate pudding was much quieter and seemed to be done after 1h 45min. It was much drier than the jam pudding and sauce that I poursed over it did not seem to help its case. The fact that there were no additional flavorings beyond the cocoa made it rather bland.

All in all, I will give steamed puddings a try again in the future. I think that they can add a lot of moisture to a cake without letting it get gummy. I’m sure that it is an excellent method for puddings with dried fruit, as they will plump nicely in the heat. I really did enjoy the jam pudding (the cooked parts, at least), so below is my adaptation of Jamie’s recipe. I tried to fill in Mr. Oliver’s instructional gaps, too.

Steamed Jam Pudding
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, soft
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup jam/preserves
water, for steaming

Set a large pot on the stove and grease a 1 quart (4 cup) baking dish or bowl, making sure it will fit in your pot when the lid is on. Spoon jam into the bottom of the dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir in softened butter so it is evenly distributed. Stir in egg, milk and extracts to make a smooth batter. Pour batter into baking dish and cover it tightly with aluminum foil.
Place dish into pot and fill with water until it reaches half way up the side of the dish. Place lid on the pot – you may need to check the water level occasionally if the lid does not fit tightly. Bring water to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cook for approx 1 h 45 min. Poke the top of the cake by pressing lightly on the foil to check for doneness; the cake will spring back when it is ready.
Carefully remove dish from pan and turn the pudding out onto a serving dish.
Eat warm, with tea.

Serves 8.

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  • FoodNinja
    August 18, 2005

    Sexy looking cake Nic.. I tried to make jam and ended up with jars of fruit juice… LOL sometimes your the bat and some times your the ball

  • dksbook
    August 18, 2005

    I don’t care much for Jamie Oliver’s recipes, frankly. Maybe they are just too British. Steamed puddings are subsitutes for cakes when one doesn’t have an oven, or a very reliable oven. And because of my British background, I have eaten a lot of them in my 56 years. I have found the most dependable recipes came from Joy of Cooking, William-Sonoma, and Sunset magazine. My favorite is called Moor In A Shirt, a wonderful chocolate steamed pudding dressed in whipped cream (the shirt) from Germany. I have found in steaming puddings that longer is not necessarily better, and that a pudding mold with a tube is really quite preferable to a pudding basin. I even make my Christmas plum puddings in a tube mold, although it is quite untraditional. (I use a recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking Christmas.) A good pudding should be sort of moist, but not wet. The fat used matters, too. I use part suet for the fat in a pudding recipe. It makes a much fluffier pudding. Forget Jamie – go to Chuck Williams or Joy for good pudding recipes and tips!

  • vkn
    August 18, 2005

    Hey Nic:

    Great attitude. We will try this steamed pudding recipe today. Will let you know how it came out.



  • Cathy
    August 18, 2005

    I’m hitting myself on the side of the head and saying duh… Renee at Shiokadelicious made a beautiful steamed chocolate cake recently and I was thinking (and saying) that I’d never heard of steaming a cake before. Steamed pudding… OF COURSE! I was also thinking I needed some sort of fancy steamer, but I believe I can make due with my big dutch oven. Now I have two steamed cakes to try, ’cause that jam cake of yours looks delicious!

  • Nic
    August 18, 2005

    Templar – I hear that. I’ll stick to buying my jam.

    dskbook – I always want to like Jamie Oliver’s recipes. I think he’s a good cook, but not such a great recipe writer. Thanks for the tips. I’ll look elsewhere next time.

    vkn – I hope that yours is tasty (and way less noisy!). Let me know how it works out.

    Cathy – It’s funny how one word can lead you down the wrong path. That’s probably why I’m so bad at crossword puzzles. The jam is the key. Use a good one – maybe fig jam?

  • boo_licious
    August 19, 2005

    I love steamed puddings especially with lots of creamy custard. Always wanted to try them but I somehow I always don’t using the excuse I don’t have a pudding mold. Must try this pyrex method you mention.

  • Cate
    August 19, 2005

    I’ve never steamed a pudding either, but ever since I saw Martha Stewart do it, I’ve been on the lookout for the molds. I love how easy the recipe seems … maybe it’s finally time to give it a try.

  • Owen
    August 22, 2005

    I’ve had luck with Jamie’s recipes, BUT I only cook the ones that I really think will go well – I don’t particularly like his desserts or his baking to be honest.

    But the BEST source for steamed puddings (and other British food) is Gary Rhodes – especially his new classics cookbook.

    Also, fruit/jam is a requirement for puddings IMHO – my favorite is queen of puddings

  • Paul
    November 15, 2005

    Use the recipes without the suet. I know it’s meant to make the pudding more moist, but nowadays you can substitute with all sorts of fancy no cholestorel, low fat margarines instead. Best with Tate & Lyell golden syrup. I even managed to find a tin in our local supermarket here in Texas…at great expense! It always seems as though I’m pouring too much syrup into the bowl, but however much you put in initially, add that amount again, you’ll not regret it!

  • Katie W
    February 15, 2007

    I know this is a long time since you write this post, but I thought I’d also add that you can steam puddings in the microwave. I always make mine in a pyrex bowl, and tie baking parchment over the top to keep the steam in, but with a pleat so it doesn’t explode! It really doens’t take long at all to cook, about 5 minutes for a reasnoble sized pudding is plenty, and it saves on all that rattling which you even get with proper pudding basins.
    My favourite has to be with golden syrup, and then plenty of proper custard made using Birds custard powder!

  • becky
    April 20, 2007

    Jamie is fine when recipes require you to throw in handfuls of ingredients and bosh ’em in a pan or whatever, but I’m not sure he’s so good at precise things like baking… Nigella Lawson has a great recipe for a golden syrup steamed spong pudding.
    Steamed puddings are wonderful, and are traditionally eaten after a meal (like Sunday lunch!) smothered in custard. Though cream or ice-cream is good too 🙂

  • farah
    December 31, 2008

    I absolutely love steamed pudding gorgeous especially with custard! I also think jamie is a good cook cool guy etc! If you want a really good recipe for steamed pudding try out nigella lawsons version in her book domestic goodess and use an empty Christmas pudding pot to pour the mixture in! Works wonders every time! Yum!

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